Ashoka Alum Lalchhanhimi Bungsut bags the Inlaks Scholarship for higher studies at Oxford
Lalchhanhimi (Chhani) Bungsut, an Ashoka alumnus from the Undergraduate Programme batch of 2021 has received the much coveted Inlaks scholarship from the Inlaks Shivdasani foundation to pursue her Masters in Social Anthropology from the University of Oxford. She describes how her experience at Ashoka University charted the path for her further educational endeavours
My Ashoka journey began the day I graduated from high school. During the ceremony, I walked the bittersweet path to my diploma and into an uncertain future. Officially knighted as a graduate, I took out my phone to capture the moment, only to find an email from Ashoka University. Congratulations! proclaimed the first word. I ran to my mom and read the letter with her.
I was in, with generous financial aid too. The next few months were a blur of preparations filled with excitement and anxiety.
Nothing at Ashoka University came easy. Finding friends proved difficult, classes were daunting, and pandemic-induced online classes made studying much harder. I was lucky, however, to eventually find support systems through professors, classmates, and friends.
Over the three years I spent at Ashoka, I grew more confident in my ideas and thoughts, no longer second-guessing every sentence I spoke or every paragraph I wrote. I found people I could call friends through classes and the various clubs I participated in – from being a co-president of Farm Fresh, a core member of the AnthropoSoc, a member of the women’s football team, and a co-founder of the Northeast Collective.
Tired of pandemic academics, I decided to leave my fourth-year plans to opt for a job at the Centre for Pastoralism. For the past year, I worked as a content writer, editor of the organization’s quarterly newsletter, and eventually as the communications lead for the past few months.
Simultaneously, I was also able to undertake research projects through The Zubaan-Sasakawa Peace Foundation Grants for Young Researchers from the Northeast (2021-22) and an opportunity to contribute a chapter in “Food Stories from the Northeast”, a book edited by Dolly Kikon and Joel Rodrigues.
Meanwhile, I decided to apply to a few universities abroad and spent several hours every week writing and rewriting my statement of purpose. After settling on three universities, I was fortunate to get admission to my top choice – the University of Oxford – to do a Master’s in Social Anthropology.
The moment I opened the admission letter, it felt like the three years of trudging through difficult readings, essays, and classes had finally paid off. However, the letter was soon followed by a wave of disappointment. While I was ecstatic to be accepted, I knew it wouldn’t work out without external financial support.
In May, after two rounds of gruelling interviews, I was awarded the Inlaks Scholarship – a generous scholarship from the Inlaks Shivdasani Foundation. I thought myself undeserving but was also overjoyed that I would be able to pursue my master’s at Oxford.
My journey would’ve undoubtedly taken a different course if it weren’t for Ashoka and the people who made it a university and a home. I’m grateful to my professors, classmates, and most importantly the friends who taught me more than classes and readings ever could.